Jun 092014

by Danielle Triffitt – There is a long and short version of this one, for sure.

The short:

Damn hot. Challenging course. Longest time I’ve ever spent running. But I got it done.

An 11:44:09 exercise in suffering.

The long:

I left Sam happily headed to pizza with Mom, Dad and Morgan around 5:15 on Friday evening. We had decided the best plan was to have Mom and Dad stay with her at our house for the weekend, and it turned out to be exactly the right call. She had a great time and a lot of fun with her cousin this weekend, and I didn’t have to worry about getting home to take care of her after a rough day.

After leaving Sam, I went to pick up Ryan at work. Ian and Emma were waiting in the parking lot, with little Iona fast asleep in the back seat (so cute) to give us our awesome TMR Ultra zip-ups. (Too bad it was too hot to wear them!) Very cool. Thanks guys! We headed south to Ryan’s parents, and had our traditional Friday evening pizza dinner. It was a bit odd to be there without Sam, but it was nice to catch up with Irene and Dana, and I so appreciate that they were willing to let us use their house as a crash pad 🙂

Saturday morning rolled around much too quickly. I got up at 4:00 and soon discovered one of my full bladders had leaked all over the place in the fridge. Ugh. Got it cleaned up as best I could, and continued on. We left the house around 4:50, and had no trouble getting to Hale Reservation. We did, however, have a bit of trouble finding the start line, as the volunteer at the check-in sent us the wrong way, and we were wandering through the woods with about a dozen other people wondering where the heck we were. Yikes. Ryan was fairly pissed, but quickly found out where we had to go. The start/finish was at one of the beaches along a big pond. We grabbed a flat spot, chatted with friends and started to get ready.

Just your typical morning at the beach 🙂
“Game faces”


Kate and I ready to rock it.

The 100 milers had started at 5:00 am, but I think there were around 90 50-milers starting with us at 7:00. With a Yeti howl the race took off across the beach, and down the entrance road until we reached the first turn into the woods. I had planned to start as slowly as I could, but with the road running, it was probably a bit faster than I would have liked. Still, things slowed to a reasonable, but comfortable pace once in the woods, strung out in a long line with all the other runners. The first wildlife sighting came a few feet into the woods. A doe was about 5 feet off the trail, just looking back over her shoulder at us. Probably wondering what the hell we were all doing 🙂 She didn’t move, just watched us as we all rolled on by.

In retrospect, I would say the first 10 miles were by far the easiest. There was a lot of smooth woods running and a bit of pavement too. I was running fairly well and felt good. I stopped at the first aid station around 4.5 miles in, grabbed a fig newton, hit the port-a-potty and was off again. When I got to the mile 10 (or maybe more like 9?) aid station, where Ryan was supposed to meet me, he wasn’t there. Hmmm. I had given him a baggie of stuff to meet me with. Well, nothing to do but grab a few animal crackers, hit the port-a-potty and hope he arrived. If not, I’d make do. As I was using the facilities, I heard a frantic voice say, “Has number 1701 come through yet?” “Ryan,” I said, “I’m in here.” I came out to find him covered in dirt and blood and fairly frantic. Apparently, he had taken a good fall on his way out. Yikes. I reloaded some gels, ate some dried strawberries, and quickly headed back out onto the trail.

Somewhere between miles 10 and 15, things started to get a bit more technical and we hit two of the steep climbs on the course. The first was a hiking trail straight up through the woods near Noanet Peak. When we got to the top of the climb, we headed downhill, then looped around and went up the Peak again. Argh, silly PUDs! The second climb came a bit later, but we also were treated to a beautiful waterfall in this stretch, and somewhere in here, I was running with a guy who jumped and said, “Turtle.” I turned around and jogged a few steps back to check the turtle out. Cool.

Mile 15 was an unmanned water stop. I didn’t need anything so continued on. At the road crossing at mile 18, Ryan was there, in the midst of his run, and he ran a few steps with me. I told him things had gotten fairly technical, telling me and the girl I was running with that the part across the street here was really technical too. It started with a really steep gravel hill climb up a pipe line in the woods. Then down to a stream with transfer station run-off. I couldn’t get across without stepping into the muck. EW! Soon after, we hit the long stretch of fields to the last aid station, Polliwog Farm. It was a beautiful morning and the fields were buzzing with swallows, but this is where the heat started to get to me. The open fields with the sun beating down. It was not a good combination. I stopped to have one of the aid station people refill my bladder, just in case, had a cup of coke and a few pieces of watermelon, but wasn’t smart enough to get any ice at this point. Then it was more fields back to the woods, where the trail was twisty turney, and rock and root infested. Oh, the heat, the heat. I started to feel a bit woozy. The pace slowed. But nothing to do but keep on going. Saw Jamie back at the road waiting for Kate around 24 miles and told him things were getting rough.

Two-way traffic road stretch
Then back to the beach. Hurray. I came through in 5:05, still pretty decent for feeling badly since mile 20. I headed up into the pavilion where they had laid out the aid station feast. Ryan met me there and I told him things were going a bit downhill. He had me sit, got me to drink some water and coke, and eat more watermelon. He put ice in my hat and got a Buff on my neck filled with ice. John, who was there to pace Tom in the 100, nicely restocked my Nathan pack, and after a 5 minute break, I was off again. Only one more lap to go 🙂
I still wasn’t feeling great, but I felt like I was still moving fairly well. Again, this was the “easy” section and I slowly started to feel better as I chugged along. I stopped at the first aid station and had more watermelon and coke. I tried to drink as much as I could out of my pack. But feeling my arms, I wasn’t sweating much. I was flip-flopping with a few guys along this stretch. I never really “ran” with anyone, but it was nice to have people to encourage and be encouraged with as we flip flopped by each other up and down hills. Somewhere around mile 30, I lost the girl I’d also been flipflopping with for quite a while. It was her first 50. I hoped she would make it.
Ryan met me again at mile 35. I sat down and took a while at this stop. I kept telling him I was not feeling good. I ate 3 pieces of watermelon, had two cups of coke, got a refill on water and more ice in my hat and Buff. Ryan also poured a lot of cold water on me. He told me Michael had come through only 5 minutes before and was hurting. I think we all were. He said it wasn’t about time now, it was just about getting through it. And it was true. I’m not going to say I didn’t have negative thoughts during the second lap, or even in the last part of the first lap, but those fleeting thoughts of “oh, it would be so much easier to just stop” simply got pushed out of the way. I had no songs in my head all day. I was just focused on moving forward. I knew my goal time of 10:00 was out the window. I knew we were all suffering. I hoped I could break 11:00. But most of all, I was going to finish the damn thing.

Ryan said he looked at his phone at one point and it was reading 83. Yes, it was damn hot out there.

OK, so I knew I had some rough road ahead. I was walking more but running when I could. At the two-way traffic section around the Noanet Peak loop, I saw Bob. I had made up two hours on him (he was running the 100) and man, he didn’t look good. He was pale and not sweating. He told me he would probably drop. We continued on our own journeys. I caught up to him and another guy at the unmanned water station, where there wasn’t much water left. Bob told me they were stopping here. He was afraid he was going to pass out. None of us had a phone, so I left feeling slightly nervous about leaving him there and knowing I had to get the message along. I was alone through this stretch, trying to run the nicely graded parts and hiking the rest. George and Ann were at the road crossing at mile 42.5. I told them about Bob and Ann called Ryan to tell him. George, bless his heart, walked with me for a bit, got me ice for my hat and had a cold bottled water that I poured all over myself.

I knew I had the roughest stretch ahead, and it had taken me a really long time to do the 8 miles between when I saw Ryan last and the road crossing. My legs were starting to rebel. Still, I was thankful I had found “SaltStick”. The legs didn’t cramp nearly as much as they had at Stonecat, on what was a MUCH cooler day. I took in 9 saltstick tabs throughout the day, and really, they worked wonders.

At the mucky stream, one of the guys I’d been leapfrogging with said to me, “I thought I’d be done by now.” My watch read 9:49. Yup, I had been hoping to be closing in on the finish too. Instead, I was still out slogging in the woods with a long way to go. I was hurting for sure, but still had some energy left. I was able to mostly run the fields and woods before and after Polliwog Farm aid station, but once things got technical, my quads refused to let me run the downhills and I didn’t have energy to run the uphills. I started talking to myself, telling myself I had to run the flats. It would get me finished sooner. I still walked a fair amount of them. Somewhere in here, I caught up to Michael. I couldn’t believe it. I asked him how he was doing and he said it wasn’t good. His legs had seized up and he couldn’t run at all. It was also in this section that all of the sudden there were a lot of people. Some were definitely 100-milers. We were all suffering, but I did pass quite a few people. The legs hadn’t given up completely, just partially 🙂

The section between the fields and back to the road crossing took forever. Where was the fucking road?! It like being stuck in hell. There, finally, we were there. George gave me more ice for my hat.

I yelled to the crossing guard, “How many miles to the finish.” 1.5 miles. That was it. 11:00 had come and gone. Even 11:30 was out the window. Shit. I so wanted to be done. I ran what I could, which wasn’t much. And then, that final uphill and a few zigs and zags, and there it was. The beach! I ran as hard as I could on that sand and crossed the finish line with a smile on my face. It wasn’t the race I had hoped, but I had done it. I didn’t give up and I was proud of that. Plus I was just so happy to be done!

As I crossed the timing chip pad, I said to Ryan, “That was the hardest thing I’ve ever done.”

11:44:09 officially. 5th woman. 21st place. It wasn’t pretty but I did it. And thank heavens, it was done.

The finish (Can you see the smile?)

I was hardly able to move so I settled into a chair to try and eat and drink. That wasn’t really happening, but I did get some wipes to clean myself off and Ryan nicely removed my shoes and socks and wiped down my legs. I am one lucky girl to have a husband and crew like him. Michael came in 5 minutes later, his legs a mass of cramps and spasms. We would soon hear that Kate had dropped at mile 35. She was moving well, but slowly, and also had a huge blood blister on one of her heels. It was rough out there, for sure.

I finally got up and down to the lake to rinse off. I said congrats to a few of my “friends” and snacked a bit here and there. My quads were shot but I could move around OK. We hung out for a bit until the sun started to set, and then finally around 8:30 we were in the car. What a day.

A huge shout-out to Ryan, John, George and Ann and Jamie for crewing, cheering and helping me out on the course, and to Ryan for encouraging me along the way and telling me I was doing great even if he was worried about me.

And of course, a big thank you to TARC for putting on one heck of a race. It was one of the toughest courses I’ve run with all the PUDs, rocks, roots, twists and turns (and the heat) but it was a beautiful setting. The course was very well marked, and the aid stations were great. On a rough day, the volunteers helped keep us buoyed and well fed. Many, many thanks!